The first time Sharon Russell met her daughter’s boyfriend, she had a bad feeling about him. But it wouldn’t be until months later, when the relationship with attorney Shawn Roland Roberts grew serious, that her maternal instincts would prove correct.

Tara Sganga, an energetic and outgoing medical sales representative who enjoyed spending time with friends and family, gradually became withdrawn and distant. Many times she wouldn’t answer her phone or open the door at her west Houston apartment. And her appearance changed. She lost weight and her thick wavy hair turned thin, Russell said.